Recreation Commission Meeting
Whipple Town Hall
August 6, 2013
Members present: Scott Blewitt (Recreation Director), Jason Stadler, Laura Lorio, Alison McLean, Janet Kidder (arrived at 5:20pm)
Members Absent: Laura James
Mr. Blewitt opened the meeting at 5:10pm.
Mr. Blewitt said that at the last meeting they discussed coming up with name tags for employees and Recreation Commission members. He had a sample of a name tag style to show. The Commission was happy with the style and size. Mr. Blewitt said he would work with John Lovejoy to come up with the details.
Hospital Days Review
Mr. Blewitt wondered how people thought it went and what they may have heard from others. Ms. Lorio thought the placement of the Recreation tent was good; in recent years it wasn’t as up front. Mr. Blewitt opined that the “Meet the Chamber” event was a huge success on Thursday night. He met many people who were interested in recreation. Ms. McLean thought it was great that Mr. Blewitt attended the event as it showed that the Recreation Department was tied into the town’s functions and activities. She has heard many remarks from people who felt it was a great time to meet people, mingle, and network.
Mr. Blewitt said the Recreation tent had face-painting, tie-dye, sack races, radar soccer-kick and a dunk booth.
Mr. Stadler said everyone he talked to was elated that the “Old” Hospital Days was back. Even the staff that ran the rides was an improvement over the previous years. He thought that this should be relayed to the company that they were happy with the attentive staff at the rides.
Mr. Blewitt said that he wanted to create a team environment between the staff from the beach and the day camp. They competed with each other at the triathlon. Ms. McLean liked that Mr. Blewitt had incorporated the staff in the parade as the kids from the town liked to point out their counselor(s) to their families.
Ms. Lorio thought a sign at the dunk booth, tie-dying and the face-painting with the prices would be good for next year. Mr. Blewitt said they did have proper signage, but they got wet on Thursday night and had to be thrown away. He agreed that signage would have been helpful.
Ms. Kidder said that Mr. Blewitt did great with the Hospital Days events, as did everyone involved. She hoped the Chamber made some money on the event.
Mr. Blewitt said he added an inflatable finish line to the end of the triathlon on Sunday, which is owned by the Town of Sunapee.
Mr. Stadler said that business-owners along Main Street were likely very happy with the results of Hospital Days, as they seemed busy.
Mr. Blewitt said that the lifeguards said in the past they had been paid for 10 hours of work even though they only worked three. This wasn’t done this year and didn’t need to be done, as the staff was having a fun time being involved. Mr. Blewitt added that it was a pleasure working with Mark Vernon on the triathlon.
Mr. Blewitt said that the Recreation Department’s Facebook page has 174 likes, which he felt was good. The policy is that people cannot make comments for public viewing. Comments go to him only.
Elkins & Bucklin Beaches
Mr. Blewitt said he went around with officer Zuger and Linda Jackman and inspected both facilities. New fire extinguishers were needed at both beaches. They have added sand at Elkins beach around the playground area. This was done late last week. Shortly afterwards, a child fell and broke his arm. The waterfront staff did a great job with this situation. Mr. Blewitt noted that sand is an approved material to cushion falls on a playground.
Ms. Lorio said she saw a man hit his head on the dock at Elkins a couple weeks ago and she saw how the staff handled the situation. Kim and the staff did a great job with the victim and the ambulance was called. The man was OK. Mr. Blewitt said he couldn’t be happier with the staff this year with leadership by Kim, Kara and Renee.
Entrance of Elkins
Mr. Blewitt wondered about the transition of the parking lot and the first beach. A split rail fence is there that some families have said makes it inconvenient to get past with beach luggage. He took out two sections of the fence to enable quicker access to the beach. After talking to Mr. Lee, he found that this was not a good solution because the step down in that area is a little steeper than a traditional step. If they need more than one step, they are required to put a rail up. It was thought that making this change for next year would be something to think about. Ms. Lorio said that it is difficult for elderly people who are dropped off at the beach to get to the beach. There is a leaning tree and roots that are easy to trip over. Ms. McLean suggested putting in a switch-back ramp in the area to aid in easy access to the beach. Ms. Kidder thought they could put a concrete ramp in with a railing. This would not be a huge expense and she thought the highway department could do it.
Ms. Lorio added that it was difficult to know how to park in the lot at Elkins, as it is dirt. She added that there should not be any parking allowed at the entrance of the beach as it is hard to access the beach when a car is parked there. Ms. Kidder suggested meeting with Mr. Lee at some point next week to see what can be done in that area.
Mr. Blewitt said the new trash cans at the beaches were making a huge difference with bird activity.
Mr. Blewitt said he has received the water quality numbers back from the Health Officer and they were very good.
Mr. Blewitt said he had no concerns with Bucklin Beach. He said the new signs were up and wondered what they should do with the old ones. Ms. Kidder thought perhaps they could be placed at the Ice House.
Volunteer Support at Elkins Beach
Mr. Blewitt said that Mike McChesney and Scott Ellison have volunteered to do some volunteer cleanup of the Elkins beach area. He told Mr. McChesney to put what he wants to do in an email and forward it to him. He wanted to make sure that what was being proposed (some liming) needed to benefit all and not just a few. Ms. Lorio suggested looking at these things when they go down to the beach next week to look at the possibility of putting in a ramp. Ms. Hallquist reminded the Recreation Commission that no trees should be cut at the waterfront as Mr. Lee has a program where he cuts things as needed and that shoreline regulations need to be followed.
Mr. Blewitt said that in the next week or two the staff would be evaluated. This will determine if people will return to work for the Town the following summer. He felt confident that everyone would be back. He talked a little about possible pay increases for lifeguards for the following year.
Mr. Blewitt said he spoke with Jim Tucker and Chelsea from the Outing Club regarding fall programming. Wednesdays from 3-4 is when intramurals take place, as was the arranged time from years past. He would like to do something on the town green or another space such as a flag football program after school. He would like to organize children’s ballet classes. Ms. Lorio suggested coordinating these classes with the tot time that is held at Colby-Sawyer College.
Mr. Blewitt and Mr. Tucker talked about a combined event. They thought perhaps the Halloween night with the haunted walk and then a dance. They could advertise together. Jim and Chelsea want to have more talks and the Outing Club is going through some transitional time with their board of directors.
Mr. Blewitt said he would like to reach out to Nancy Friese at the Council on Aging regarding programming for her clientele.
Jack Frost Event
There was talk about the Jack Frost event. It was thought that it should remain in January as despite the cold, participation has always been good. Ms. Lorio had a list of vendors from 2011 which was the last time it was held.
Mr. Blewitt said he would like to reach out to the Chamber for this event. Ms. McLean agreed that this would be a good thing to do. As a board member, she was supportive of the idea. She would bring this up at their next board meeting.
Ms. McLean said based on the craziness they had to deal with regarding road cones for the triathlon, she wondered if the Recreation Department should invest in some of their own. She wanted to ask if Mr. Blewitt should look into costs for purchasing cones. Ms. Hallquist said that the Town owns plenty of cones and they can be used for Recreation events. Hospital Days does require more than the Town has, however. Mr. Blewitt said there is room at the Water/Sewer building to store these kinds of things.
Ms. McLean said she had a meeting with the Outing Club the last week because PSNH has a large trimming job to do at the substation on the other side of the Outing Club fields. New London was one of the towns for a long time where the cutting was very selective. There were a lot of “deals” with people that they wouldn’t cut certain trees. PSNH has been ordered to clear trees back 150’ or they can be fined. The Outing Club will experience some significant changes with the trees that need to be cut. They will end up with a lot of wood that can be cut into boards for projects and also a lot of wood chips. She met with Tim Hearnan and Sumner Woodard who don’t see a need to keep the wood chips. They may be willing to give the chips to the Town should there be a project they have in mind. They can be used for erosion control and to close off areas. The cut will be done in September.
Mr. Blewitt said the snowmobile owned by the Town is a 2005 and is stored at the garage by the water and sewer department. He thought it had been used to maintain some of the town’s cross-country trails but didn’t think it had been used for the last two years. He thought it could use a tune-up and wondered if he should help with the grooming of trails. Ms. Heath suggested that Michael Todd had been grooming the trails in the past with his own equipment and that he should talk to the Conservation Commission about what they would like help with, if anything. Ms. Kidder suggested Mr. Blewitt speak with Bob Brown (Conservation Commission Chair) about this as he would know best.
Mr. Stadler suggested Mr. Blewitt would need to get the snowmobile registered. Ms. McLean said he would need to take a snowmobile safety class before using it.
Mr. Blewitt wondered what the Commission would like him to say with regards to the 1941 building at meetings he has been asked to attend. Ms. Kidder said that he should say he would be happy to move into that building and run programs from it. Mr. Blewitt wondered if it would be appropriate to have Casey Buiso come to a Recreation Commission meeting to explain what they are doing. Ms. McLean said she would like an overview from someone as she isn’t exactly sure what is going on.
Ms. Kidder said the committee’s first priority is to be sure the building is sound and can be used. Once they find this, they are hopeful that the Recreation Director will go to that location and oversee the building, schedule the activities, and employ a larger staff. Ms. Lorio felt this would be a good collaboration opportunity. She said that the Town of Franklin has done a similar project in their town. Ms. Kidder said there has been interest by the hospital, COA, Colby-Sawyer College, and Adventures in Learning (AIL) to use the space. Until they come up with some hard numbers with regards to sustaining the building, there isn’t much more he could say.
Mr. Blewitt said that the next regularly scheduled Recreation meeting is September 3rd.
IT WAS MOVED (Jason Stadler) AND SECONDED (Alison McLean) to adjourn the meeting. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.
The meeting adjourned at 6:10pm.
Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary
Town of New London